The Board of Elections and Ethics in Washington D.C. ruled Tuesday that allowing a same-sex 'marriage' ban on the ballot would violate the city's Human Rights Act of 1977. On Wednesday, the organization, Stand4MarriageDC filed a lawsuit against the board saying it is denying D.C. citizens the right to vote on the definition of marriage.
The Marriage Initiative 2009 is currently seeking to put a measure on the ballot in which voters can decide if “only marriage between a man and woman" should be "valid or recognized" in the District of Columbia. The measure is being championed by an organization called Stand4MarriageDC, headed by Bishop Harry Jackson, Senior Pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md.
Board of Elections Chairman Errol R. Arthur said in a statement on Tuesday that "laws of the District of Columbia preclude us from allowing this initiative to move forward" and that the initiative "would authorize discrimination prohibited under the [District's] Human Rights Act."
On November 18, the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal alliance which seeks to defend religious liberty, filed suit against the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics on behalf of Stand4MarriageDC, saying that the board precluded the right of citizens in the district to vote for or against the definition of marriage.
The people of D.C. have a right to vote on the definition of marriage,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks in a press statement. “The D.C. Charter guarantees the people the right to vote, and the council cannot amend the charter for any reason, much less to deny citizens the right to vote.
Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America, also weighed in on the situation. "The D.C. Council reeks of rank hypocrisy. For years they have demanded that D.C. citizens should have the right to vote for congressional representation, which is in direct contradiction to the Constitution. Yet now they are denying D.C. citizens the right to vote on marriage, an institution so fundamental to America's well-being that territories were not allowed to become states unless they kept marriage between one man and one woman,” she said in a press release on Nov 18.
Thirty-one states have already allowed citizens to vote on the definition of marriage. In every case, traditional marriage was preserved.
However, Mayor Adrian Fenty said that the D.C. Council was capable of making a decision regarding same- sex "marriage" because the council was elected by the citizens of the District of Columbia.
The City Council in D.C. is expected to vote on a motion for same-sex “marriage” on December 1.